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Do I need a fusion?

GAHGGAH Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:52 AM in Spinal Stenosis
I have stabbing pain across the buttock area including hips and aching in one leg. Primary doc ordered an MRI which described a severe lumbar stenosis at L5-S1. I then went to a physiatrist who confirmed the stenosis and said I would probably need surgery. No mention of spondy. Then I saw a spine surgeon who said I also has spondy. It is hard to see the misalignment on the MRI image. Looks like much worse higher up.

How far out of alignment do the discs have to be to qualify for spondy, and how to they tell if my pain is coming from there or from the stenosis?




  • GAH,

    So far you have two doctors telling you surgery is likely, but *you* with your surgeon will have to make that determination. If I where you, I would write down all your questions and have the spine surgeon (he's the expert) address them.

    Aside from the testing and all, it also is based on what is going on in your body. We can have a nasty MRI with no symptoms, or a fairly benign one and have all kinds of symptoms, so while the MRI tells you your status, your body too has to agree.

    Welcome again to Spine Health!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Part of your Spine is already out of Alignment, it increases the chances that they will not be able to keep the rest of the spine in good alignment during surgery. So They will probably try and do a Fusion. Its like Jenga Blocks in there, when one block is off kilter everything gets wobbly.
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  • Thanks, Brenda

    I guess that is why surgery does not always bring relief from pain despite MRI confirmed spinal problems. Then there is failed back syndrome.

    One retired nephrologist friend with fusions followed by transition to other vertebrae and subsequent fusions warns me against surgery. Other doctor friends are skeptical as well. Sounds like a pretty big gamble in terms of success not to mention surgical risks.

  • You're Welcome GAH,

    Unfortunately even though our surgeons "are" the experts, even they can't see in the crystal ball as we are all wired a bit differently, and as such react differently to similar situations. That's why its best to get as many opinions as makes you comfortable and confirmed in your decision.

    Failed neck (me), failed back, yes it happens. Or everything goes "textbook" and yet the symptoms that brought us to surgery are still not resolved. That is why surgery is so big of a decision between you and your team. Even though friends (albeit doctors) are saying stay away, it really will have to boil down to you and your body and life.

    Please let us know how it goes. I know it can be a very tough decision to decide on. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had a lumbar laminectomy in Sept. 2010 and a micro disectomy in Jan. 2011. I was diagnosed with cervical and lumbar stenosis and DDD. After both surgeries I felt good for about 6-8 weeks and then the pain in my left buttock and left leg returned. I had another MRI on the lumbar area on April 11th, and it shows new herniations right below were the last surgery was. They fixed L3-4 and now the problem is L-4-5. I went to see the Neuro today and he was surprised that a man that is 59 years old has the amount of deterioration that I do. I played a lot of sports in my youth and worked as a steelworker for 25 years before I went on SSDI. The Dr. said my past activities wouldn't have much to do with the problems I have now. He wants me to see his associate and he is recommending fusion surgery. I guess when it keeps causing these problems fusion is probably my best option. I'd like some opinions from you guys, especially from people who have had lower lumbar fusion.
    Thanx for listenig- Rick
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